Guru Talk: Ayda Pourasad – NPR

Ayda Pourasad - Research Librarian / Audio Archivist

Ayda has worked with video and audio assets, and understands the process is always evolving.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

I have worked at both CNN and NPR. I have assigned metadata to raw video and audio stories. I also have made decisions on what video asset to include in the archive and what to let go. I have taken care QC of audio assets. I made sure that the audio stories and their transcripts matched, and the audio was playing correctly. I am responsible to make sure each of the story records in our database were linking to the correct audio on npr.org website.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I mostly learned digital asset management from my managers and also by simply trying out different DAM systems. There are no resources or university courses that I am aware of that would work better than training at your work place. I do however think that having an Archives degree definitely benefits a Digital Asset Manager.

What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?

I think DAM is all about learning and understanding the needs of the organization that the system is supposed to serve. The DAM first should learn about how the organization is using those assets. So usability of the assets is the most important concept the DAM needs to keep in mind.

If you weren’t doing DAM as a career, what would you be doing?

I would be doing research and reference services, as I am doing now. I would also consider doing production in the media field.

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Guru Call: USA

USA FlagLooking for a Guru in Washington D.C. area. Member is currently considering employing semantic web technology as part of the new digital asset management roll out.

They are looking for resources about the bridge between the two technologies. For example, use cases, other DAM professionals with experience in their own organizations, or even books and papers that address explicitly the connection between DAM and semantic web.

Member is mainly looking for more information to assist with ROI and implementation.

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Guru Talk: Lara Hiller – DAM Professional

Lara Hiller - DAM Professional

If you build it right, it can last forever. The first DAM system Lara and her team built in 1999 is still in operation and now supports over a billion assets worldwide.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

My first role as a digital archivist was at Amscan, Inc., where I organized their catalog images over a decade ago. My background is a BA in Art History. I’m currently working on a Master’s degree in Education. I was an Executive Assistant at Chanel, Inc., where I managed fine art and jewelry inventories, organized marketing content, documentation and photos. I worked across creative teams, designed a sales training module, documented workflows, and provided content management and organizational charts—useful experience in my role as a Digital Archivist, and later as Digital Asset Manager.

I’m currently an independent Digital Asset Management Consultant, and also in a graduate education program at SLC. My area of interest is Digital Literacy. It’s thrilling to work with the next generation of digital tinkerers!

About.me/larahiller

Follow me on twitter @LaraKohi.

What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?

The digital archives in the catalog department at Amscan, in 1999, contained approximately 300,000 images in a wide variety of formats. There was no precedent, really, the term ‘Digital Archivist’ had just been coined, and so much of the organizational strategy was open territory.

For Amscan’s purposes, I attended seminars and worked closely with IT, Product and Catalog Directors to develop their digital library. For those new to DAM, I would advise to keep it simple, and read as much literature on the subject as you can before diving in. In my case, this was in terms of art inventories and libraries.

With my team, we created file naming taxonomies based on current workflow objectives. We designed surveys and hired interns, and polled the departments on their use of catalog images. Based on the surveys, we established metadata, data fields and provided trainings. We looked to automate as many processes as we could, and reviewed many vendors in this effort. DAM was just in its infancy. It didn’t have a name yet! Many of the vendors we’d looked at are no longer around today, but what’s interesting is that the central ideas of Digital Asset Management remain the same.

Amscan is an international party product manufacturer and distributor. More than 40,000 products are featured in a wide variety of contexts by more than 40,000 international retailers. They generate sales largely via catalogs.

Because the most important features were ease and speed of asset retrieval, and scalability was key, my team and I ended up implementing the simplest system possible, based on naming conventions, data fields and folder systems. The assets are accessed from multiple points across the company for multiple uses.

For ease of implementation, I would recommend considering workgroups’ learning styles. Artists learn visually, for example. Product people know their product by name or sku. The DAM should absorb these differences. We ended up building a custom solution, utilizing several out of the box or custom interface solutions.

What is your biggest mistake with regards to DAM?

I regret not becoming more involved in professional associations at that time. As it was, I had just become a mom, and was craving a change from technology. Now though, it’s possible to be at home with children and also stay involved in professional discussions, which I think is a terrific advancement for women and parenting.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

I am really proud of the fact that the archiving system—the digital library that my team and I created over a decade ago—still supports corporate business. The company has grown to manage billions of images now, and perhaps I was able to contribute to that.

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Guru Call: Brazil

brazil-flagLooking for a Guru in São Paulo, Brazil. Member is seeking thoughts and insights regarding SharePoint as a digital asset management solution. Looking for guidance on plugins, limitations and what would be needed to make this a viable solution.

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Guru Talk: Jade Jourdan – Edwards Lifesciences

Jade Jourdan - Senior Digital Asset Manager

Jade understands that one of the biggest challenges with DAM is getting up to speed on a new system, so the rest of the pieces can fall into place on a successful implementation.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

I currently work at Edwards Lifesciences as a Senior Digital Asset Specialist. I manage the DAM system containing source files for marketing projects, as well as product images, corporate images, video and company logos.

Before working at Edwards Lifescieces at I did some asset management with regards to design projects and advertisement designs at The Orange County Register.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

Basically as a librarian for marketing materials that are kept online.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I have attended yearly DAM conferences. Particularly the Henry Stewart DAM NYC conferences have been helpful. Real Story webinars are valuable, as well as other DAM companies that have webinars.

What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?

For me I find the importance of archiving and that nothing should be discarded. Every asset should be able to be retrieved. Old assets are often needed for historical reference.

If you weren’t doing DAM as a career, what would you be doing?

I really love digital asset management, but if I was not in this field I would be managing a graphic design department.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

One of the greatest challenges and digital asset manager faces is the transitioning from an old system to a new system. Getting trained, training users, selling users on the new system, this all takes time and patience.

What is your vision for DAM? What will it look like in 5 years?

I believe it will become necessary for every company to have a DAM system. And, the systems will be improving and work more smoothly. Ease of use will be the biggest improvement I see in the next five years.

What is your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

Probably would be that I had to learn a lot about DAM in a short amount of time to be productive in my position.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

Getting up to speed with our DAM system. Learning about DAM, metadata, taxonomy as well as learning about the business units and products at Edwards. Very challenging first year, but learned a lot and am successful at managing the DAM.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

I like to keep up with DAM innovations. What the trends are, where improvements can be made…what industry professionals are saying about where the industry is headed.

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Guru Talk: Eric Reber – Georgia State University

Eric Reber - Archivist

Eric Reber is an experienced digital archivist and shares some of his favorite educational resources for digital asset management.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

My background is in library science. My first positions were at the Savannah College of Art & Design: There I worked in serials were I got my early cataloging chops and then I moved into the Visual Resources Center which I consider my gateway job to DAM. There I learned image cataloging for a homegrown institutional Digital Image Database. My final position at SCAD was as a reference librarian, which has served me well when it comes to instruction for the end users of the Digital Asset Library I currently manage. Now, I am a Digital Asset Archivist at Georgia State University. Here I have established and administer a DAM system for the university’s PR and Marketing Communications Division. This system serves as both archive and distribution vehicle for the PR and Marketing assets we create for the colleges, departments and programs of the university.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

Having come from a library background I joined the Visual Resources Association while I was working at SCAD and pursuing my MLIS degree at Valdosta State University. The VRA proved very valuable when I first attended their conference in Atlanta, GA. I learned of industry trends and resources there. Many DAM vendors attended so I was exposed to a broad spectrum of DAM systems. There I learned of their Summer Educational Institute for Visual Resources and Image Management (SEI). This was an immersive week long program at the University of New Mexico covering everything from rights management to metadata and cataloging. If you have started in libraries and are looking to make the jump to DAM, this program was the vehicle that really helped me nail the interview that got me the position at GSU. I can’t recommend it enough. Currently, I participate in our local DAM Meetup, facilitated by my friend Elizabeth Keathly, where I can stay on top of industry trends and enjoy discussions with my fellow Atlanta DAM professionals.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

My biggest mistake with DAM was possibly not understanding how challenging learning to navigate and use a new system can be for the layman. Patience with your end users will ensure the best possible buy-in for a new system implementation!

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

My biggest success to date is the establishment of our PR and MarComm Digital Asset Library here at GSU. I take pride that I took about 15,000 disorganized image assets dumped on a local server and migrated them into a highly organized DAM system where the collection has grown to over 100,000 assets to include images, video, and graphic files. What previously required end users to come to our offices and browse images on our in-house server now has 1133 active clients able to access, browse and download assets from anywhere they have an internet connection.

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Guru Talk: David Klee – Univision

David Klee - Director of Digital Assets

Whether it’s digital asset management or media asset management, David reminds us it’s always about metadata schemas.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

I have been very fortunate to be able to work on DAM at organizations both large and small.

On the large side, I led an engineering group at NBC in New York called Media Software Integration.  There, we worked with the Media Asset Management (MAM) system that made content available to NBC News properties including our evening newscast (Nightly News), morning news show (The Today Show), news magazine program (Dateline) and various programs on our cable news platform MSNBC.  Our team focused on file-based workflows and software development to both connect internal users with the content they needed and the system itself with other platforms inside the company.

On the smaller side, I helped develop file-based workflows and asset management solutions to support an internal corporate agency for the Salt River Project, a public power and water utility in Arizona.  Also in Phoenix, I had the fantastic opportunity to help design and execute file-based workflows for the Arizona Cardinals Football Team in-stadium display crew, which included getting the new University of Phoenix stadium online in 2006.

Currently, I lead a new department at Univision Communications, Inc. (UCI), working to build and support technologies for media management.

On a personal level, I also maintain an interest in time lapse photography and do my best to wrangle a collection of nearly one-million images.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

In the broadcast industry, there’s always a very salient use case to introduce people to Digital Asset Management; the aging video tapes packing shelves in warehouses and tape libraries are now becoming digital video files.  This presents a variety of challenges — all the old workflows that people were so comfortable with managing video tapes (cataloging, storage and physical logistics) now need to be re-invented to make it easy to manage, find, preserve and reuse digital video files.

But DAM is also much more than a digital library.  Once you have all your eggs in one organized basket (so to speak), there are lots of opportunities to connect that basket to other systems and integrate it into your workflows.  DAM is as much about the process of getting the content organized as it is about getting it connected to the people and systems who need it.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

There’s really no substitute for diving in and getting some practical experience with DAM, but there are also some fantastic resources on the topic that I’ve benefited a lot from over the years.  Below are some of my favorites.

For those of you in New York City, the NYC DAM Meetup Group is a fantastic group of people with meetings on interesting topics.  Many recent meetings are also available for streaming online.

There are a couple of excellent conferences on the topic by Henry Stewart and Createasphere.

More for the individual, Peter Krogh had a very solid book several years ago introducing many important DAM concepts to photographers, and has followed up with some more specific tips that are particularly relevant on the Adobe stack.

For those more interested in the metadata and taxonomy side of things, Heather Hedden has lots of interesting information in her book and blog, the Accidental Taxonomist.  David Riecks’ website on controlled vocabulary also shouldn’t be missed, particularly for those who lean more toward the photo side of the equation.

And no listing of DAM resources would be complete without Henrik de Gyor’s Another DAM Blog, which includes links to some valuable resources, as well as a large offering of podcasts on various DAM-related topics.

What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?

DAM isn’t really a problem to solve — it’s a process to manage.  Some people seem to think that all you have to do is find the right system to manage your assets and the situation will be taken care of.  The reality, as with most things, is much more complex.

Depending what kind of organization you’re in, the goal of DAM may be much more focused on managing a pipeline or supply chain of assets — often with new assets coming in all the time.  Understanding and optimizing the workflows that get assets in and out of the system is an important part of the process.  And in most organizations, this set of workflows is far from static; new file formats, software packages and business requirements all converge to disrupt even the most thoughtfully designed processes.

DAM is often about developing workflows and tools to build a dynamic supply chain that can adapt and grow as needs evolve.  It’s more about building a framework to solve problems than about implementing one magical system that will cure all ills.

If you weren’t doing DAM as a career, what would you be doing?

I started my career as a creative professional, and my early focuses on video production and time lapse photography very much helped frame how I approach DAM.  I still enjoy sitting down with graphic design and video editing software when I can.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

Managing large quantities of video and/or audio present several unique challenges to DAM.  However, as with many DAM topics, metadata is key, and it can be particularly interesting to manage metadata with the addition of time.

When searching across long videos, simply locating a relevant asset in a big system is rarely enough — users often want to locate a particular moment in time.  There’s very little standardization around the handling of time-based metadata in different systems (even different systems from the same vendor can model time-based metadata very differently).

The process to effectively design and implement time-based metadata schemas within the constraints of existing tools is probably the single greatest challenge I face in video and audio-based collections.

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Guru Talk: Frank Milson – Chevron

Frank Milson - Digital Asset Manager

Frank understands that one of the hurdles in digital asset management is the speed in which a new asset can be created. Streamlining the ingest process helps to reduce costs and improve efficiencies within a company.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

One thing that I noticed about working in DAM for some time, is that I was working in DAM long before anyone knew to call it Digital Asset Management. I spent over a decade in corporate sales for CompUSA, selling the first laptops, servers, and computer equipment to Houston businesses.

One of the earliest concerns of many of my clients was how to scan, and otherwise digitize their paper processes. I was well familiar with the need for high speed scanning, high resolution imagery, and secure storage, as well as databases that made all of those assets rapidly accessible. All of this was immediately familiar to me when I came to Houston Community College (HCC) to do a job that basically, no one else wanted to do. After all – it was “just filing”!

HCC had already been using ImageNow for student documentation, and they were looking to expand that to the documentation they had been using for decades to process and track their physical inventories. My job became the process of ingesting the physical documents into a database, creating metadata for those documents (what we called “tags”), and process the physical documents for destruction. Ultimately, I was able to become the primary source for researching and delivering the electronic copies of those documents whenever they were needed, as well as using the database as a method of tracking physical inventories.

I was then offered an opportunity to work with Chevron in their Image Library project. A huge corporation such as Chevron has a ongoing need for business imagery, and they were used to accessing it directly from stock photography sources. The Chevron Image Library was created, using Telescope, to store stock images, manage licenses, and create a central database of imagery accessible to all employees. I worked as a liaison to their Information Design And Communications (IDC) in house agency, ingesting finished projects, sourcing permissions, linking images to their online originals, and creating first-level metadata.

What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?

The most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand is that the ultimate goal is to make the results accessible to the daily business user. A scanned document is just an image, and is useless to business purposes unless it can be applied to practical purposes, just like a file in a folder is just a piece of paper until it is found and used.

The creation of metadata is as important to the access of the document as an accurate scan. It is important to understand how your users will access the data, and thus the digital asset that the data represents.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

My ongoing greatest challenge with DAM is the speed, or the lack thereof, inherent in the translation process. It takes much longer to ingest and notate every single document, image, video, or audio clip than it is comfortable to discuss for budgetary purposes. Once it’s done, of course, it’s there forever, and can be accessed instantly, so the results are certainly there, and are tangible. For long periods of time, it doesn’t look like anything in particular is happening. DAM is definitely a background process.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

My biggest success in regards to DAM was when I was able to use our database to help the police track and identify a large number of stolen items. Before the process, all of those documents would have to have been physically pulled from files collated, annotated, and returned to storage. I was able to create a digital file from all the documents, and deliver to investigators within a day.

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